How You Can Find Solutions
IF YOU suffer from loneliness, it might be helpful to ask yourself: ‘Are there things that I can do to improve matters? Could it be that I need to make some changes in my life? If so, what are they?’ The following questions may help you to make a personal analysis and find satisfying solutions.
Do I Need a Change of Outlook?
Loneliness can happen to anyone. But this negative emotion becomes a real problem only when it persists. If it does, it may be a warning signal that something has gone wrong with your outlook on life. The problem could stem from the way you act in the company of others. Some people may inadvertently create, as it were, a barbed-wire fence around themselves, discouraging people from offering their friendship. Sometimes all that is needed is a change in outlook.
Consider Sabine’s experience when she immigrated to England. “It takes time,” she said, “for trust to develop between new friends, so that you can relax and be confident in each other’s company. Why not ask others about their upbringing or background? I was told: ‘No culture is the right culture. Take the best out of all of them.’” Yes, as Sabine was encouraged to do, you may want to find qualities in the culture of others that will be beneficial for you to imitate.
Do I Shy Away From Others?
You might ask yourself: ‘Do I have a tendency to stay away from others? Would they be more friendly if I was friendlier with them?’ If you feel this may be the case, make an effort to be more outgoing. Roselise, a 30-year-old who moved from Guadeloupe to England, said, “Those who feel lonely have the tendency to isolate themselves.” So she advised: “Look for others who seem to be lonely too. Take the initiative and speak with them. Sometimes it only takes a question to begin a lasting friendship.”
It takes time and effort, though, to develop a close friendship. Learning to listen is a good way to start. By listening effectively, you will be in a better position to talk about things the other person finds interesting. Remember, fellow-feeling engenders friendship!
Is Negative Thinking My Problem?
A low opinion of yourself can be a barrier to striking up friendships. Ask yourself, ‘Do I have an inordinate tendency to think negatively of myself?’ Abigaïl, a 15-year-old from Ghana, admits: “Sometimes I had negative thoughts that made me feel lonely. I felt unloved and worthless.” You can be sure that if you reach out to others and help them in some way, they will not consider you worthless. They may reciprocate by offering you their friendship. So why not make the first move?
Positive thinking will also help you to make friends with those who are not of your own age group. A friendly relationship with a person somewhat older or younger than you are can be rewarding. A major factor in young Abigaïl’s overcoming her loneliness was her reaching out to older ones. She explained, “I benefited from their experience in life.”
Do I Isolate Myself?
Many lonely ones find a measure of relief by watching TV or playing video games for long periods of time or by spending hours at their computer. But when they turn off these gadgets, they are as lonely as before. Elsa, a 21-year-old from Paris, admits, “Television and video games can become like a drug that affects a person to the point where he no longer wants to make friends.”
A downside of TV viewing is that it provides no interaction, exchange of thoughts, or opportunities to make friends. Video games are much the same—they take people into an imaginary world that disappears the moment they quit playing. Aimlessly surfing the Internet can provide escape from reality, but it can also expose you to immoral material or to people who hide their identity. The Internet is not a good place to find or cultivate genuine friendships.
Seeking a Marriage Mate?
Some single ones may pursue marriage simply to cure their loneliness. True, a kind and loving mate can bring tremendous joy to your life, but be careful not to rush into such an important decision as marriage.
Marriage is not necessarily the solution to the problem of loneliness. Married couples with communication problems are said to be “among the loneliest people in the world.” Unfortunately, there are more people in that situation than one may think. So if you wish to get married someday, why not address your problem of loneliness before you become romantically attached to someone? By adjusting your attitude and habits and by taking the initiative in making friends while you are still single, you may very well be establishing a solid foundation for a happy marriage.
You Can Cope With Loneliness
There may be no immediate solution to your loneliness. But you can successfully cope by following the Golden Rule, which Jesus articulated. He said: “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them.” (Matthew 7:12) So if you want others to be friendly to you, be friendly to them. If you want others to open up to you, open up to them. Others may not reciprocate immediately, but in time some will. Even if they don’t, you will be happier because you tried.
Jesus stated another profound truth that may help you cope with loneliness: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Acts 20:35) If you give of your time to help others—a child with his homework or an elderly person with shopping or keeping his or her house or garden neat—you will feel happier and perhaps begin a genuine friendship.
Finding the Best of Friends
There are other practical ways to cope with loneliness. Get out and about. Go for a walk in the park or in the countryside, if possible. When alone at home, fill your time with creative things, such as sewing, doing odd jobs or repairs, or reading. One person wrote, “No distress has ever come upon me that an hour’s reading has not dispelled.” Many have found solace especially when reading Bible psalms.
Experts have observed that association with people of like religious faith can help one to overcome loneliness and can be beneficial to health as well. Where can you find people who strive to follow the Golden Rule? In a book on religious movements, an impartial observer wrote: “In their own congregational life [Jehovah’s] Witnesses form a genuine community of trust and acceptance.”
Jesus provided what might be called the hallmark of true Christianity when he told his disciples: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) This love—first for God and then for fellow worshippers—is what particularly identifies those who are practicing the true religion.—Matthew 22:37-39.
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HOW I RELIEVE MY LONELINESS
Anny, widow: “I try to control my thinking and to see the positive side of my situation.”
Carmen, single: “I have learned not to be ‘addicted’ to the past but to move forward and start new relationships.”
Fernande, widow: “If you put forth effort to help others, you forget your own troubles.”
Jean-Pierre, single: “I regularly take long walks, during which I open up my heart to God in prayer.”
Bernard, widower: “I keep in touch with my friends by telephone, not to recall sad memories, but for the pleasure of keeping in contact.”
David, single: “Although by nature I enjoy solitude, I have made a point of opening up to others.”
Lorenna, single: “I take the initiative to approach people and befriend them.”
Abigaïl, age 15: “I spend time with adult friends and benefit from their experience.”
Cherry, single: “I found that if you tell people that you are lonely, they make more of an effort to be friendly with you.”
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STEPS TO OVERCOMING LONELINESS
● Develop a positive outlook
● Limit isolated recreation, such as TV viewing
● Seek friends who share your values, including people not your own age
● Above all, seek God’s friendship
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Make friends with people who are not of your own age group
THE WATCHTOWER—STUDY EDITION